Air Force lab reflects mirror technology
U.S. AIR FORCE NEWS RELEASE
Posted: August 25, 2003
A milestone in telescope-mirror technology, completed recently by Air Force scientists here, is leading to lightweight, space-based telescopes much larger than NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
The optical quality of the membrane material was exceptional, as judged by the uniformity of its thickness, which did not vary by more than an average of about one-millionth of an inch, according to officials.
Shifting from glass mirrors was necessary because of the limited cargo capacity of space shuttles and other rocket boosters. Replacing glass with thin-film meant that a mirror could be brought to space in a folded or rolled configuration and then unrolled or expanded like an umbrella once in space, officials said.
"Our goal is to produce a telescope mirror with a diameter of 10 meters, or nearly 33 feet," said 2nd Lt. Ethan Holt, the film mirror project officer in the directorate's surveillance technologies branch. "A surveillance telescope that size in orbit 124 miles over the earth would really improve our ability to image enemy and friendly assets and capabilities."
Large space-based telescopes could also be used to focus the energy from lasers, another potential application for this technology, officials said.
Story on stage
SIGNED COPIES! "A Space Story" DVD is a galactic journey with astronaut Story Musgrave visiting the Hubble Space Telescope, viewing Earth from Space, and reaching for the heavens. Get a signed copy while stocks last!
U.K. & WORLDWIDE STORE